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Old 08-06-2014, 03:32   #1
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Removable Cutter Stay vs Solent Stay

Hi there,

I've been planning on adding a removable cutter-stay to my foredeck to fly a stormsail from. Now I'm looking at light-weather sails, and I'm leaning towards a drifter hanked on its own stay. That would mean adding a solent-stay to the foredeck as well, or getting rid of the rolling furling gear all at once.

My question is whether the stormsail could also be flown on the solent stay. In that case I could just make a removable solent stay (as high as possible attached to the mast and as close to the forestay as possible). This would allow me to fly a hanked on stormsail in rough weather and a nylon drifter in light winds on the same removable stay. Keeping my rolled up genoa for the "normal" conditions.
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Old 08-06-2014, 04:05   #2
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Re: Removable cutter stay vs solent stay

You can, but it won't work as well as it will from an inner forestay. A storm sail (or regular staysail) on an inner forestay has center of effort lower and further aft, which can be a Godsend in heavy weather. Don't forget you will need running backstays to balance the forces imparted to the inner forestay.

It's not actually against the law to have both and inner forestay and a solent stay.
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Old 08-06-2014, 04:53   #3
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Smile Re: Removable cutter stay vs solent stay

You can configure your boat so that an inner forestay can be used both in the standard Solent location, as well as further aft, as a Cutter stay.
Simply affix the upper end up high, as you would on a standard Solent stay, and have the stay setup short enough that it works in the usual manner when connected to your Staysail's (tack) chainplate. Using a Hyfiield or similar adjuster connection.
Then, when you want to use it as a Solent stay, just move it forward. Albeit you'll probably need a short pennant or set of link plates at the forward tack point (to make up for the short extra length of stay needed). In a pinch, you could even use a piece of chain, or length of heavy duty spectra/Dyneema (that, or a set of Precourt thimbles) to make up said length.

On the stay's lower end, with a quick release pin, or a Crosby shackle that has a screw on nut & cotter pin for a safety on the shackle's cross bolt, moving the stay wouldn't take but a moment. And require zero tools.

In the Solent position, yes, your sail's tack may be 2'+ above the deck, due to the above mentioned stay pennant/link plate(s). Unless you get real ingenious that is. But I don't see the non deck sweeping height as a negative for a Solent jib. Quite the opposite.

One other option for the Solent/Cutter conundrum, or just to have a stay for hank on jibs, is to get a piece of the appropriately sized (diameter wise) Spectra. And splice an eye, with chafe sleeves, into either end. Then attach the Spectra to a tack fitting on deck, or even your anchor roller, & tension it with a spare halyard. You could even set up the halyard as a 2:1 if you're really concerned about stay tension for windward performance.

Then just hank on your sail of choice, preferably with bronze hanks, & hoist away.
Said setup seems to have worked on the Volvo boats, amongst others, so... Meaning using metal hanks on bare textile stays. Particularly as Spectra's slippery enough to give it a decent lifespan in said application. And as a bonus, it's a KISS setup. Less weight aloft, simple to replace, etc.
Plus, no rigger (read $) needed, nor extra wires & fittings required. Just a couple of hours of measuring & splicing at your leisure.
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Old 08-06-2014, 05:00   #4
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Re: Removable cutter stay vs solent stay

I've considered the spectra alternative to the stay question, but as you mentioned, I am very worried about stay tension... How would you set this up to get it as tight as you might a wire stay? Certainly for the heavy weather sail this would be crucial of course...
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Old 08-06-2014, 05:21   #5
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Re: Removable cutter stay vs solent stay

For your first post, UNCIVILIZED, that one was a winner. Thanks and welcome to the Forum! I'm mulling over exactly the same issue.
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Old 08-06-2014, 05:40   #6
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Re: Removable cutter stay vs solent stay

First, the halyard that you'd be using to tension the stay needs to be of the high-tech, low stretch variety. And to get really good stay tension you'll need to run it as a 2:1, much like a Code-0. That, or slightly oversize the halyard, & put a multi part purchase at the stay's lower end.

But assuming you go with a 2:1 halyard, & you get a 30x mechanical boost out of your 40x power halyard winch (I'm allowing for friction losses etc.)
Then you have a 60:1 mechanical advantage to tension the Spectra "stay".
With a double handed winch handle, & some grunt, you can apply 50lbs of force to the winch... 50lbs x 60:1= 3,000lbs of tension on our new stay.

Most standing rigging on your average boat is designed to be set up somewhere in the neighborhood of 25% of it's breaking strength. So 4 x 3,000lbs = 12,000lbs. And if memory serves, 12,000lbs is half way between the breaking strength of 5/16" & 3/8" 1x19 wire.
http://riggingonly.com/wire.htm#WIRE
So our Spectra "stay" will be as tight as a similar, appropriately sized, wire one, with a conventional turnbuckle. Also, the other half of the equation is to tighten up the backstay & runners for additional headstay tension. Which is SOP in heavy air anyway.

Also, knock on wood, said wire sizes are common on boats which have halyard winches with at least a 40x power ratio. And the relative strengths of materials & mechanical advantages quoted tend to remain in pretty similar ratios to one another as vessel size goes up or down.

I hope that that makes sense, I haven't caffeinated up for the day yet ;-)

PS: I'm not trying to over simplify things, or dumb them down. I just don't want to over think them, or over-thin my wallet. There are a multiplicity of varities of commercial textile stays. Up to & including ones which hold up multi-million dollar rigs on all kinds of Gucci & or racing yachts.
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Old 08-06-2014, 09:02   #7
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I know it can be done, and done safely/effectively/cheaply so, I just have 0 experience with it and know nobody personally that does.

I'll look into it. In any case, the one stay for a solent as well as a cutterstay is certainly a winner. Didn't think of that!
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Old 08-06-2014, 14:10   #8
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Re: Removable cutter stay vs solent stay

If I was considering this I would go with a sta-sail with an internal luff rope on a small furler. This is a very common sail of asymetric boats and allows you to remove it when you don't need it. The hardware is a few hundred bucks plus the sail and deck plate.

As for the solent stay... It isn't that I think bad of them, just that there are better options. I would go with a retrofit asymetric pole from Selden, and a screecher or Code zero on a furler. For light wind work the Code will be faster, and will be worlds better on a reach. With modern top down furlers you can leave the sail furled up for a passage, then just store it if either storms are coming in or you are leaving the boat.
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Old 08-06-2014, 15:36   #9
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Re: Removable cutter stay vs solent stay

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Originally Posted by Orchidius View Post
I've considered the spectra alternative to the stay question, but as you mentioned, I am very worried about stay tension... How would you set this up to get it as tight as you might a wire stay? Certainly for the heavy weather sail this would be crucial of course...


I've got 8:1, plus I can run the tail to my windlass - pretty sure I could turn my boat inside out with it if I wanted to....
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Old 08-06-2014, 16:15   #10
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Re: Removable cutter stay vs solent stay

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Originally Posted by Calypso52 View Post
For your first post, UNCIVILIZED, that one was a winner. Thanks and welcome to the Forum! I'm mulling over exactly the same issue.
Yes welcome
Got a friend fitting a quick release lever to my inner stay.
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Old 08-06-2014, 16:23   #11
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Re: Removable cutter stay vs solent stay

I like the idea of the storm stay as permanent rigging. We just added a Code Zero with its own built in stay and ATN snuffer. When its down, its gone. Since we only use it in light air, rigging can be done with minimal hazard. I would hate to be rigging a storm stay in storm conditions.
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Old 08-06-2014, 17:47   #12
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Re: Removable cutter stay vs solent stay

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Originally Posted by Nicholson58 View Post
I like the idea of the storm stay as permanent rigging. We just added a Code Zero with its own built in stay and ATN snuffer. When its down, its gone. Since we only use it in light air, rigging can be done with minimal hazard. I would hate to be rigging a storm stay in storm conditions.
Permanent is a matter of degrees. It is common to rig the inner stay before going offshore and leave it up the whole time, but keep it down for coastal cruising when fast tacking the genny is important and your likelihood of getting caught out in heavy weather is much smaller.
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Old 08-06-2014, 20:49   #13
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Re: Removable Cutter Stay vs Solent Stay

I did this very project after agonizing over 100's of posts. I went with a removable solent stay tensioned with the largest Wichard adjuster they make, and 3/8 wire. My mast already had a tang for the stay which made the choice easier. With a solent you will not need running backstays. With a cutter, you will.

If you decide on a Dynex-Dux forestay over wire, you will need soft hanks, and be prepared for chafe. You will also need to have a very secure deck fitting, and tie into a bulkhead. You will also need a means to tension the stay. The sailmaking/ordering part is easy, and dictated by the above criteria.

You see a reef point in my staysail, for the next gear down. I told the sailmaker, that I wanted it VO70 bullet proof. It is. After that, it goes to an orange staysail. Under deck it is a -20 rod to a bulkhead, with a Wichard double folding padeye, 3.5 in thrubolts, and 1/2 in G-10 backing plate epoxied to the underside of the deck.
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Old 08-06-2014, 21:29   #14
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Re: Removable Cutter Stay vs Solent Stay

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Originally Posted by CAELESTIS View Post
With a solent you will not need running backstays.
Selden (for my mast profile) doesn't require backstays for a stay within 6% of existing backstays, which works out to about 2 feet on my mast. The bottom of my new stay is maybe 3 feet back from the original, so the stays aren't parallel. The top is too far up for a "proper" cutter and to far down for a "proper" solent and I have no idea what it should be termed. Whatever it is, it lets me fly a small, heavy jib that works great with a reefed main!

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If you decide on a Dynex-Dux forestay over wire, you will need soft hanks, and be prepared for chafe.
I run bronze hanks and have experienced no issues, although I certainly haven't tested them through weeks of storm conditions or anything of the sort.

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You will also need to have a very secure deck fitting, and tie into a bulkhead.
I didn't have a bulkhead handy, so my stay passes through my deck on a 1/2" threaded rod, which is terminated by an eye fitting and in turn lashed with Amsteel to another 1/2" rod which passes through the hull/stem, so that the inner forestay is effectively terminated to the stem. "Very secure" is absolutely necessary, but there are lots of ways to get there.

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Originally Posted by CAELESTIS View Post
You will also need a means to tension the stay.
See above - I use pair of Colligo terminators. They're light - I don't really WANT to get bopped in the head with one, but it would be more fun than a Hyfield - and it's a couple minutes to move the stay from the foredeck to the base of a shroud, where it's completely out of the way.
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Old 08-06-2014, 22:07   #15
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Re: Removable Cutter Stay vs Solent Stay

Bronze hanks have a pretty good reputation working with Dux. Long term it may be a problem, but the people I know who have been doing this don't seem to be having a problem. Of course many have been switching to soft shackles anyway, but that is out of preference not necessity.


Personally I would go without an inner stay, and just have the staysail use an internal wire (or torsion line) on a drum. This allows you to remove it completely when inshore and store it below, and hook it up when heading offshore.
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